Article Review

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The article titled Children of the Garden Island is written by Emmy E. Werner (1989).  This article is an account of a longitudinal study carried out by the author and her colleagues over a period of over 30 years. Kauai is a small island which lies at the end of the Hawaiian Island chain. It has a population of 45,000 and the inhabitants are a mixture of people from different areas has settled. According to the author, this study was initiated at a time when longitudinal studies were not considered very important nor did many people take on such studies. It began in 1954 when the researchers began by collecting histories of soon to be expectant mothers. The researchers chose to study the progress of 698 infants, 422 were born without complications.

Out of the whole population, the research team started to take interest in children who were labeled “High Risk” not only because of problems during pregnancy and childbirth but also because they came from very poor and deprived families, where the parents suffered from mental illness or had an unstable environment. But these high-risk children turned out to be responsible adults with stable jobs and strong relationships. Choice of this place was because of:

  • Receptivity of the people
  • Variety of cultural influences
  • Low mobility

Social workers and nurses worked with the researchers to track and induct pregnant women who were followed throughout their pregnancies, to find if the infants suffered during the pregnancy or childbirth. One out of six children suffered from physical or mental disabilities because of pregnancy and or childbirth.  While one out of five children developed learning disabilities. During the study, it was found that with time the influence of reproductive stress lessened, but the key was the quality of upbringing of children which played the main role in its impact on biological risks.  Generally, the environment was the more powerful determinant then biological conditions.

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